The Clinton Aura and the Pending Rise of Democratic Meanness
Whatever one may say about Bill Clinton’s political leanings, let there be no doubt about this: 10 years after leaving office, he’s still the most skilled politician in the land. That may or may not be a feat worthy of pride, but I can’t think of a single politician in my lifetime who comes close – Reagan runs a very, very distant second. Dude is the Michael Jordan of politics, and right now he’s just returned from a David Stern-imposed exile to the Birmingham Barons. Unfortunately, the Dems he returned to are the Wizards, not the Bulls like in Jordan’s first comeback.
One other thing, though: as valid as Clinton’s complaints about Dems lacking a coherent message this year are, I don’t see how a political party in control of the Presidency, House, and Senate in the midst of a terrible economic climate can ever put forward a coherent message. You can’t really run on promises and programs, since you will have already implemented virtually everything that was realistic to implement. And you also can’t really run on your record since that record cannot possibly be divorced from the economy – whatever my personal opinions of the heath care reform bill, is it even debatable that the bill would be significantly more popular if the economic climate had drastically improved since it had passed?
The trouble with coalition politics is that eventually you get to govern. When you get to govern, you get to pass a nice chunk of the agenda that unites your coalition. Suddenly, you don’t have an agenda to unite the coalition anymore. Combine that with a crappy economic climate and the only way to keep your coalition together anymore is to throw out a bunch of scary words about how scary the other guys are. It’s a good short-term strategy, but it has pretty bad long-term consequences.
Have a good weekend, all!